AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

The Curricular Choices of Students Aged 14-16 at Three Secondary Schools in England

by David Peter Johnson

Institution: University of Leeds
Year: 2016
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2078118
Full text PDF: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/13566/


The focus of this study is to identify the factors that influence young people’s curricular decisions by taking a holistic, qualitative approach to explore the decisions students, aged 14-16, make in relation to chosen curriculum pathways over a period of time within the context of three case study secondary schools in England. The research suggests that the curricular decisions of students aged 14-16 are influenced by a variety of factors, including the views and experiences of parents, siblings, teachers and their own aspirations for the future. A major influencing factor on these curricular decisions is that of government policy, including factors such as: curriculum, qualifications, school performance, reporting of achievement and parental choice and the impact these factors have on school policy. Within this context, the research indicates that schools, and in particular, the schools’ head teachers interpret and enact the curriculum requirements and expectations of government policy and how they are influenced by the school context as well as the parental expectations and the socio-cultural context of the school. The overall results of this study indicate that the most significant factor influencing the curricular decisions that students make relates to the context of the school that the students attend and the policy that the schools set and how they approach and implement this in response to government expectations including the extent to which they constrain the choices of young people and involve the students and their parents in the decision-making process. The recommendations include an improvement in the quality and consistency of curricular information that secondary school students are provided with and better access to independent advice and guidance, together with greater transparency to ensure that students and their parents are aware of the government’s expectations concerning secondary education and how this influences each school’s curriculum policy.